The Chevrolet Trax has been around since 2015 and we’re taking a deep dive to find out if a brand new Trax is a better buy over a used one.
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The Chevrolet Trax is a small spunky little crossover that’s built to provide some of the utility of an SUV without being any larger than a small city car. To that extent, it does a great job. In fact, as far as design language goes, very few cars in its class have the same brash and attractive styling. It’s that styling that draws most customers to the Trax and the simple, straightforward pricing which entices many to buy. Still, without any major updates since it was released in 2015 we wonder if buying new is a better value proposition than purchasing a lightly used Chevy Trax model. Today, we dig into the details to find out.
For 2021, the latest version of the Trax costs $22,595 for the base LS model. For buyers interested in a used Trax, the discounts can be big. The average price is roughly $16,500 and will of course fluctuate depending on mileage and options. Beyond pricing, it’s pretty hard to differentiate between these two Trax. That’s because their styling is nearly identical and beneath the skin things are even more similar.
All Chevrolet Trax are powered by the same 1.4-liter 4-cylinder that makes 138 horsepower. All of them come standard with front-wheel-drive and a 6-speed automatic transmission. All-wheel-drive is optional. Since their bones are identical, performance is nearly the same too. The 2018 model gets 27 mpg combined with the AWD system, while the 2021 model slightly drops to 26 mpg combined.
The Chevy Trax is a really capable city car. It’s totally capable of fitting into almost any parking space easily and, thanks to the tall cabin, it’s super easy to see out of and place on the road. Beyond city street maneuvers, the Trax is a bit less refined. On public roads it’s easy to drive, but it’s unrefined compared to most of its competitors. Suspension components are identical between both year models as is steering feel and braking feedback. Those parts of the Trax are all slightly above average.
While it’s easy to decry the Chevy Trax and its lack of power, it’s a nimble little car when pushing it in the corners. In fact, it’s confidence inspiring in a way that’s probably perfect for its target audience, young drivers still learning how to pilot a vehicle. In addition, for those in northern climates where snow, ice, and heavy rain are normal, the optional all-wheel-drive is a really important feature that we found to be really good at doing its job.
Highway driving is the only area where we’re not really confident in either Chevy Trax. It’s simply underpowered when next to other modern cars on a highway. Jump on an on-ramp from a stoplight and it’ll take at minimum 9.3 seconds of full out pedal to the metal acceleration to reach a highway speed of 60 mph.
We do really like the space that the Chevy Trax offers though. It’s big enough for almost anyone to fit comfortably. It’s supportive too regardless of seating position, though, in front you’ll find more legroom. Over bumps and bruises in the road it does a decent job of dampening the impact, but it’s by no means class leading. If you’re hoping for a quiet or luxurious ride, there’s no amount of money that one can throw at Chevrolet to achieve it in the Trax. The engine and transmission aren’t particularly nice to listen to and the lack of sound deadening makes that all the more annoying.
The cabin is largely plastic and simple. The good side of that is that it’s easy to find and use controls and there’s really nothing inside that you’ll worry about getting dirty, because everything is easy to clean. There’s really nothing in the way of a center console, but there’s more than enough storage space in each door pocket. One down side of the great interior people space is that it takes away cargo space in back. The Trax is a great little car to shuttle you and a few friends around the city, but if you decide to take a weekend trip with three of them, there won’t be enough space for luggage in the back. For those going mostly everywhere on their own, put the 60/40 split rear seats down and there’s more than enough cargo space for most people.
For 2018, the used Chevy Trax option was available in three trim levels – LS, LT, and Premium. The LS is well equipped for a base model with a 7-inch touchscreen that’s integrated with Android Auto and Apple CarPlay connectivity as well as a Wi-Fi Hotspot. Bump up to the LT model for cruise control, LED tail lights, LED DRLs, remote start, and heated mirrors. The Premium trim gets keyless ignition, a power driver’s seat, blind spot monitoring, rear cross-traffic alert, a sunroof, and a Bose sound system.
In 2021, the new Chevy Trax loses the Premium trim level, but features are nearly identical for the remaining LS and LT models. In addition, the LT model can be outfitted with blind-spot monitoring, keyless ignition, and the power driver’s seat as optional extras.
The MyLink system used for the infotainment system in both is really one of the best systems available on the market. While no Trax features advanced safety systems as standard, optional extras like forward collision mitigation are available. In addition, the NHTSA has awarded both the 2018 and 2021 Chevrolet Trax five star crash test ratings.
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These two iterations of the same crossover are decent little cars. Nevertheless, it’s tough to justify the additional cost of a brand new Trax when the only major benefit there is the 3-year 36,000-mile bumper to bumper and 5-year 60,000-mile powertrain warranties. In addition, when spending more than $20,000 for a vehicle in this segment, things get even more murky when we consider any other brand new rival. The Mazda CX-30, Kia Soul, and Hyundai Kona all offer more value for the same or less money. Overall between this battle of brawny looking city cars, the used Chevy Trax is the better buy.